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iPhone 11 Pro vs. Samsung Galaxy S10: Which Flagship Phone Should You Buy?


Sept. 14, 2019

Apple just took the wraps off its trio of flagship iPhones , putting Samsung’s latest Galaxy S10 devices on defense. The companies’ two mid-sized options, the 5.8-inch iPhone 11 Pro and 6.1-inch Galaxy S10 , may be the middle children of their respective families, but both have plenty to offer when it comes to design, display, cameras, performance and battery life.
We’ll have to put the iPhone 11 Pro through its paces to see how it stacks up to the Galaxy S10 in the real world, but on paper, it’s almost too close to call. Here’s how the iPhone 11 Pro and Galaxy S10 stack up against one another.
iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S10: Specs compared
iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S10: Design and size
The iPhone 11 Pro, which measures 5.7 inches tall and 2.8 inches wide, fits more comfortably in petite hands than the 5.9-inch-tall Galaxy S10. Like other recent Apple phones, the Pro also has a notch, making its 5.8-inch display easier to navigate with one hand than the S10’s 6.1-inch screen. (More on that display in a minute.)
Size matters, but when it comes to style, Apple and Samsung have taken wildly different approaches to smartphone design. Both flagships sport triple-camera arrays on the back, but Apple grouped its telephoto, wide-angle and ultra-wide-angle lenses in a triangular formation within a square bump. The effect has polarized the internet, and even caused physical revulsion in folks with trypophobia . Samsung took a more conventional approach with its camera layout, centering its lenses in a horizontal array.
The two phones also diverge when it comes to colors. The iPhone 11 Pro has a more matte finish than the ultra-glossy Galaxy S10, which makes it more resistant to fingerprint smudges. The iPhone’s range of hues, which includes a new (for Apple) Midnight Green in addition to the classic gold, space gray and silver, are more tame than Samsung’s. The Galaxy S10 comes in an ultra-bright Flamingo Pink, prismatic white and black, and a brilliant blue. It’s definitely the flashier of the two flagships.
Which is more aesthetically pleasing? Well, that depends on your taste. And whether you’re scared of holes placed in groups of three. Sorry, trypophobes.
Early winner: Tie
iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S10: Display
Apple transformed the back of its latest iPhones, but from the front, it’s business as usual. The iPhone 11 Pro’s display looks identical to the iPhone X and iPhone XS : a 5.8-inch OLED panel with a notch swooping down from the top to disguise the front-facing camera. The 2436 x 1125 screen resolution is also unchanged from the iPhone X, released in 2017.
Samsung went bold with the Galaxy S10, designing what the company calls an Infinity-O display: an expansive, gorgeous, incredibly high-res (3040 x 1440), almost bezel-free screen. Samsung’s solution for the front-facing camera is a cut-out stamped directly in the OLED panel, which isn’t the most elegant solution, but leaves more room than the iPhone 11 Pro allows for videos, photos, games and web-browsing.
Rumor has it Apple is eyeing a display redesign for the 2020 iPhone , but this year, Samsung’s Galaxy S10 has the screen to beat, at least until we get the chance to view them side by side.
Early winner: Galaxy S10
iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S10: Performance
Every year, Apple designs a more advanced processor for the iPhone. This year, it’s the A13 Bionic, which the company says delivers 20% faster CPU and GPU performance.
That’s bad news for Samsung. The A12 Bionic in last year’s iPhones easily outperforms the Qualcomm Snapdragon 855 chip in many of this year’s Android flagships, including the Galaxy S10. On the Geekbench 4 test of overall system performance, the iPhone XS scored 11,420 to the S10’s 10,813. If the A13 is 20% more powerful than the A12, the S10 doesn’t stand a chance.
Early winner: iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S10: Cameras
Both the iPhone and the Galaxy have a trio of rear-facing lenses: a wide, ultra-wide and telephoto lens for dynamic landscapes and detailed portraits. On paper, the S10’s lenses sound slightly more advanced, because both the wide- and ultra-wide-angle have 16 megapixels. The iPhone 11 Pro’s wide- and ultra-wide-angle lenses are 12-MP by comparison. The S10’s main lens also features a variable aperture, shifting to a wider aperture when you need to let in more light to enhance a shot.
The Galaxy S10 takes solid photos with its trio of lenses. Its 10-MP front-facing lens also takes good selfies, though the placement of the camera is a bit awkward. Samsung wanted to make thecamera’s  cut-out unobtrusive by putting it to the top right of the display, so you have to retrain yourself to look up and to the right instead of directly in the center.
If the iPhone’s Deep Fusion and Night Mode can churn out photos that rival Google’s excellent AI-assisted images, then the 11 Pro will be a far better camera phone than the S10.
Early winner: iPhone 11 Pro
iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S10: Battery
Apple says the iPhone 11 Pro lasts four hours longer than last year’s iPhone XS, a claim based on the company’s tests of talk time and video playback. We’ll put the new iPhone through its paces with the Tom’s Guide Battery Test, continuous web-surfing over LTE, to see if its battery life bests the iPhone XS, which lasted a below-average 9 hours and 41 minutes. To compare, the Galaxy S10’s 3,400 mAh battery pack lasted 10:19 in our testing.
The Galaxy S10 has a battery feature the iPhone 11 Pro lacks: reverse wireless charging, which lets S10 owners charge up other Qi-compatible devices simply by placing them on the back of their smartphone. The iPhone was rumored to be gaining that feature this year, but it didn’t happen.
At least the iPhone now matches the Galaxy S10 in another area, as the Pro model phones include a fast-charger in the box. Apple says the 18-watt charger can get the iPhone 11 Pro a 50% charge after 30 minutes.
Early winner: Too early to tell
iPhone 11 Pro vs. Galaxy S10: Price
It won’t be hard to find either phone, with both the new iPhone and the S10 widely available from carriers and retailers. It’s also just as easy to spot a disparity in price between the two handsets.
The iPhone 11 Pro retains the iPhone XS’s $999 price. Samsung’s flagship phone is $100 cheaper at $899. In fact, you can get a Galaxy S10 Plus , with its larger 6.4-inch display, for the same price as an iPhone 11 Pro.
We plan to put the iPhone 11 Pro through its paces to see how its battery life, cameras and performance compare to the Galaxy S10. Stay tuned for our full review to see if the pricier Pro is worth the splurge.
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